Tuesday, July 16

C’est Moi Dans la Poubelle – Victoria Gallery and Museum, University of Liverpool

When Ezra Pound was released, after twelve years, from the mental hospital he’d been committed to, he returned to Italy and lapsed into a long silence of deep regret and shame. This was not a vow of silence, just a depressed wordlessness – he felt he’d ruined everything, not least his own Cantos (‘a botch – stupidity and ignorance all through’).

He went to see Beckett’s Fin de Partie (Endgame in Paris) in which two of the characters, Nagg and Nell, live in trash bins. Pound reportedly broke his by now habitual silence to say ‘C’est moi dans la poubelle’ (‘That’s me in the trash’.). Beckett subsequently went to visit him in Venice and this short film, written by James Lever and directed by Michael O’Neill (Armchair & Rocket), is their reimagining of that meeting based on Beckett’s account.

Pound (Lalor Roddy) is sat in his front room, a fire burning. A knock and the voices of his housekeeper (Jude Sharvin) and Beckett (O’Neill) can be heard in the background and are enough for him to turn and beckon Beckett (Vincent Higgins) to join him in an adjacent chair.

The two do not communicate other than each observes the other whilst the other’s gaze is fixed upon the fire. The ticking clock marks the passage of time – forty minutes – before eventually Beckett rises as does Pound in response and the two men hug. Beckett leaves a book on the side before departing which Pound retrieves before settling back into his chair to contemplate the fire again.

At ten minutes in length and shot in black and white, the film is exquisite in its detailing of the room and contents, and whilst everything is unsaid, there is clearly an understanding and respect between the two men whose mannerisms are absorbing: what is there to say that hasn’t already been said? What is that is going up in smoke? Is this the end game or is that the book that Beckett leaves behind.

It raises deeper questions about life itself as the hands of the clock turn over: where have we come from? Where are we going? What would you say to yourself if you met yourself coming back or going forward?, and what is it that is going up in smoke?

As a work of art in its own right the film is transfixing and I have been compelled to watch it several times since, on each occasion finding some new insight which prompts further thought: the reflection of the flames in Beckett’s glasses for example which may serve as an allegory for so much. I can only encourage you to see it.

C’est Moi Dans la Poubelle plays in Liverpool and Paris as part of Unreal Cities’ Beckett: Unbound, Liverpool/Paris 2024, produced in association with the Institute of Irish Studies at the University of Liverpool and the Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris, and with the support of The Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies at the University of Notre Dame’s Keough School of Global Affairs.

Further details including booking available for Liverpool at https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/humanities-and-social-sciences/research/beckett/ and Paris at https://www.centreculturelirlandais.com/en/whats-on/exhibitions-events/festival-beckett-unbound

Reviewer: Mark Davoren

Reviewed: 31st May 2024

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.